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The difference between birthrates following 9/11 and COVID: An Economic Outlook

By September 10, 2020Article

At the start of the “COVID Spring” there was a common social outlook that in nine months there would be an increase in birth rates, thanks to couples having more time together. 

However, as the months carried on – the social conversation shifted as the reality of COVID’s impacts around the world settled in. 

Before 2020, the last time the world was arguably unified in unprecedented tragedy was September 11, 2001. So one might observe how the birth rate was impacted in the year following the attacks – and decipher if we can expect a similar pattern in a post COVID year. Take it one step further, and we can trace how the birth rate will impact our economy in the coming decades. 

Economist Lindsay Tedds observes this pandemic will likely have the opposite effect as 9/11 had. “After [the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks] we saw an increase in births, particularly in New York state,” she said. “It was a kind of event that made people really think of the value of human life and what they wanted out of life.”

“People without kids are going to be seeing the risks that parents have faced with schools closing and daycares not available, and having to walk away from careers and jobs because there’s no child care, and [conclude] that we’re still living in a society where women still take on more of the parental duties.”

According to Melissa S. Kearney, Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Maryland, explains that income and birth-rates are expected move together, “Apart from the question of how many children to have, parents also face the decision of when to have them. If credit markets are perfect, parents can borrow and save in order to finance the cost of children and optimally choose when to have children. But it is difficult for people who are credit constrained to choose to have a child when their income is low. If money matters for fertility, we would therefore expect to see births move with the business cycle.

A forecast published in June by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank, said there could be 500,000 fewer babies born in the U.S. as a result of the pandemic. 

 Nora Spinks, CEO of the Vanier Institute for the Family shares that “What it means for families and for policy-makers and for communities is that if we see a drop in pregnancy in 2020, we’ll see a drop in demand for child care in 2023 to 2024, a drop in kindergarten in 2025 and a drop in adolescents available for summer jobs and part-time work by 2030.” And the ripple effect splashes into future work placements, retirement funds, health insurance etc. 

We understand that the details of an economic forecast due to the predicted drop in birth rates remain to be seen; however, Sand Hill welcomes our readers to share their expert economic views so we can all plan for brighter days. Because, as we were on September 11, 2001: we are all in this together.  


Clare Christopher an editor at

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